Reality TV dating shows offer the perfect escape when you ignore their fatal flaw: the seeming inability to produce lasting love.
Watchers of reality TV dating shows know there is a problem: They tweet about it every week, and petition for change. But we're still tuning in to the fantasy.
We go to "Love Island" for cheeky television and binge-watching, "The Courtship" while waiting for the next season of "Bridgerton," and "Married At First Sight" to escape dating apps. There's so much to choose from, but we've watched them all so you don't have to.
We've ranked all the reality dating shows, from worst to best.
16. 'The Courtship' (NBC)
"The Courtship" follows Nicole Rémy on her quest for love. Setting this apart from "The Bachelorette," the show takes place in the English countryside, as everyone dresses and acts straight out of "Bridgerton" – an attempt to leave modern dating in the past. The show also wasn't loved by NBC viewers: It was canceled after two weeks, moved to USA Network and streaming on Peacock.
Why we love it: "The Courtship" is whimsical, fun and unique as far as new dating shows go. And while it's not meant to be funny, some of the dates are pure comedy.
Why we hate it: The show doesn't allow contestants to truly be themselves when they're in the fake Regency era. It also frames concepts of chivalry and gentlemanliness as something one person can't achieve while dating in the 21st century – which is only true if you believe that.
Season 1 now streaming on Peacock.
'Bachelor' fans call for plus-size casting: 'Fat people deserve a chance to find love'
15. 'Sexy Beasts' (Netflix)
"Sexy Beasts" is a bizarre show that aims to tackle superficial dating by having contestants use animal prosthetics and costumes to hide their appearance, and have their personality be the key to finding love. Think "The Masked Singer," but for dating.
Why we love it: The concept of finding love based on personality alone is appealing. It also reminds us of the movie "Halloweentown" and the approaching spooky season.
Why we hate it: It's hard to take the show seriously, as you're distracted from getting to know the contestants when all you can focus on is their physical appearance – the irony.
Seasons 1 and 2 now streaming.
14. '5 Guys a Week' (Lifetime)
"5 Guys a Week," a UK series, features a single woman who invites five men to live in her house for a week in the hopes of finding love. Throughout the week, she eliminates men until she finds her dream guy.
Why we love it: If you don't have the patience or time to watch a full season of "The Bachelor," "5 Guys a Week" is a condensed version with self-contained episodes, each with a new lead. There's also a wider age range of contestants, including some in their 60s, that are underrepresented in dating shows.
Why we hate it: It's a bit boring.
Season 1 airs Wednesdays at 10 pm EDT/PDT on Lifetime.
Reality TV's evolution: How 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' changed reality television as we know it, dolls
13. 'The Bachelor' (ABC)
"The Bachelor" is an ABC staple of 20 years in which one man looks for love among 25 or so women. The lead dates each contestant in group and individual settings. Each week, he hands out roses to those who will stay on his quest for love, until he proposes at the end of the season.
Why we love it: "The Bachelor" is the longest-running dating show, and it laid the foundation for other shows to come.
Why we hate it: The lack of diversity among the leads and the contestants, from race to body type, makes it bland. The show also has a tendency to pit women against each other, feasting on the drama from their conflicts rather than the lead. (To be fair, the lead is usually boring.)
Seasons 14-16, 22-23 now streaming on Hulu.
12. 'The Ultimatum' (Netflix)
For couples hitting the fork in the road of their relationship, "The Ultimatum" features couples with one partner who's decided they want to get married or break up. The twist is that all the couples break up and have the opportunity to date each other's partners before choosing to get engaged, split or even date a new person they've coupled with.
Why we love it: "The Ultimatum" is very messy, which is great for reality TV.
Why we hate it: The show acknowledges that studies say giving an ultimatum is not good for relationships. People who go on the show might as well break up if they have to date other people to decide whether they want to be together forever.
Season 1 now streaming.
11. 'Cosmic Love' (Amazon Prime)
Is love really all in the stars? "Cosmic Love" aims to find out. This new Amazon Prime series follows four contestants from each of the four elements: air, water, fire and earth. Noel Allen (Pisces), Phoebe Davis (Leo), Connor Shennan (Gemini) and Maria Rodriguez (Capricorn) meet 16 contestants throughout the season to discover their astrological match determined by the AstroTwins Ophira and Tali Edut.
Why we love it: "Cosmic Love" is made for people who lead their dating bios with their zodiac sign, watch "Love Island" and miss "Are You the One?" It's fun and flirty, while still having the drama that gets people talking online.
Why we hate it: The show would have been perfect for including queer people, but alas, they are all seeking straight relationships. Also, if you're not into astrology, you'll hate the premise.
Season 1 now streaming.
10. 'Love Island USA' (Peacock)
"Love Island USA" has male and female contestants alternate deciding which "islander" they want to couple with. Throughout the season, new islanders are brought in, disrupting relationships that form. Through voting, viewers decide who is up for elimination.
Why we love it: The show has 40-plus episodes, making it the perfect binge-watch for days off. It's mostly fun and games for hot folks without much substance. If you miss a few episodes, it's OK.
Why we hate it: The U.S. version of "Love Island," which aired its first two seasons on CBS, is less raunchy and more filtered than its predecessor in the U.K.
Season 4 now streaming on Peacock Tues-Sun at 9 pm EDT. Seasons 1-3 now streaming on Paramount+.
9. 'Too Hot To Handle' (Netflix)
Horny singles venture to Mexico for a show they believe is dubbed "Pleasure Island," only to be tricked into "Too Hot to Handle." After 12 hours, contestants learn from their host/robot Lana that in order to win the $100,000 prize, they must abstain from kissing or sexual contact of any kind. The prize fund decreases each time the rule is broken, although they are awarded sexual contact when couples make meaningful connections.
Why we love it: It's ridiculous watching people throw away money just to have sex during such a short stay. The show gets interesting as rules are broken and people turn on each other – the classic reality TV formula.
Why we hate it: "Too Hot to Handle" is the last place people with potential sex addiction should be. As the seasons go on, it's also clear it is a reality TV-to-Instagram fame pipeline more than a dating show.
Seasons 1-3 now streaming.
8. 'The Bachelorette' (ABC)
"The Bachelorette" is a gender flip, with the lead chosen from the pool of women who competed on the previous season of "The Bachelor."
Why we love it: The women tend to be more interesting, less tolerant of contestants playing games and seemingly more serious about finding love. There hasn't been a lead we weren't rooting for.
Why we hate it: Men still have control in "The Bachelorette," with the expectation that the winner will propose. In a bid to support formerly brokenhearted finalists Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia from Clayton Echard's season of "The Bachelor," both women were chosen as leads for Season 19. The goal was to put power back into their hands, but so far it's only caused a mess, as the male contestants took back power as they pitted the women against each other.
Season 19 airs on ABC Mondays at 8 pm ET. Seasons 8, 10, 12, 13, 19 now streaming on Hulu.
'Bachelorette' Season 19 is a first: Gabby and Rachel will seek love at the same time
7. 'Are You the One?' (MTV)
We love a social-experiment game show. For "Are You the One?," contestants are matched by experts, but not told who they're compatible with. Over the course of 10 episodes, their "perfect match" is determined through a series of games, dates, strategies and a weekly matchup ceremony. If they all match the correct couples, there's a prize fund of up to $1 million.
Why we love it: Season 8 features an all-queer cast and is perhaps the best season of reality TV dating. It really challenged the contestants and normalized relationships between people with varying sexual orientations and gender identities. That season aside, it's interesting to see how people grapple with the fact that the person they like may not be their "perfect match."
Why we hate it: There's a lot of partying going on in place of what could be more opportunities for people to uncover whether they are each other's perfect match.
Seasons 1-8 now streaming on Paramount+, limited seasons now streaming on Netflix and Hulu.
6. 'Love Is Blind' (Netflix)
The premise of "Love Is Blind" is finding love before knowing someone's physical appearance. Men and women are separated into different pods where they have to decide through conversations to become engaged before ever meeting face to face. Once engaged, they venture into real-world experiences to determine if they want to stay together.
Why we love it: The concept of finding love by bonding with someone's heart challenges people at a time when dating is largely decided by looks – especially with all the options available on dating apps.
Why we hate it: The show attempts to mimic "Married At First Sight," but fails because contestants still find ways to determine what their partner looks like. Overall, there is a lack of body diversity. Vanessa Lachey put the onus on contestants in an interview with Insider published in July, suggesting the lack of body diversity is because people may be "insecure" if they don't fall into a certain body mold, which prevents them from making strong connections.
There are also other marriages that don't make the final edit. If they made the seasons longer or the dating pool smaller, everyone's love story could be seen.
Seasons 1 and 2 now streaming.
Diversity on 'The Bachelor': What will it take to fix the franchise's racism?
5. 'Bachelor in Paradise' (ABC)
"Bachelor in Paradise" is the romantically successful spinoff of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" franchise, bringing contestants who didn't find love to an island to make connections. Every other week, men and women alternate giving out roses to determine who stays and who goes.
Why we love it: More couples stay together and get married on "Bachelor in Paradise" than the main ABC franchises. As of August, 11 "Paradise" couples remain together, which is more than "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" combined. It is a more realistic scenario that allows contestants to date multiple people. And we love a good love triangle.
Why we hate it: Some contestants go on the show hoping for a specific person to appear, which raises the question of why they don't just reach out outside of the show. Remember when Pieper James and Brendan Morais went on Season 7 as singles even though they were a couple?
Season 8 premieres on ABC Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 8 pm ET. Seasons 1-3 now streaming on Hulu. Seasons 4-6 now streaming on HBO Max.
4. 'Indian Matchmaking' (Netflix)
"Indian Matchmaking" host Sima Taparia is dubbed Mumbai's top matchmaker, and she brought her efforts to reality TV. The Netflix series explores the lives of people of Indian descent, matched by Taparia based on preference, family values and traditional practices with marriage as the goal.
Why we love it: "Indian Matchmaking" isn't perfect, but that honesty is a part of the charm of the show. True to real life, the singles grapple with tradition, family pressure and dating as a divorcee.
Why we hate it: The show glosses over the Indian caste system, and how arranged marriages help maintain it. There are also only Hindu castmembers, excluding Indians who identify as Muslim, Christian or Dali.
Seasons 1 and 2 now streaming.
3. 'Love Island UK' (Hulu)
The original U.K. version of "Love Island" brings in contestants from all over Europe to compete to be the top couple. The winning couple get to split £50K for finding love.
Why we love it: The banter! Maybe it's because we're American and love to hear accents, but the contestants seem to have wittier and more playful conversations than in the U.S. version. Contestants are also not afraid to stir the pot, which makes it more entertaining.
Why we hate it: This is a problematic favorite. "Love Island" continues to lead with complaints brought to U.K. media regulator Ofcom, largely relating to misogyny. The show has also had fewer people of color as contestants, and many get sent home early or are solely relegated to same-race relationships.
Seasons 1-8 now streaming on Hulu.
2. 'Married At First Sight' (Lifetime)
Three dating experts match five or more couples in the same city and have them meet at the altar. They have no information about one another before they say "I do." After eight weeks, the couples must decide whether they want to stay married.
Why we love it: Getting married to a stranger is a bit extreme, but the show sets up couples for success by confronting obstacles they'd face in the real world, and include therapy – a resource not all real-world couples can afford.
Why we hate it: This is far less salacious than other reality TV dating shows, so some episodes can drag.
Season 15 airs Wednesdays at 8 pm ET on Lifetime. Seasons 1-15 now streaming on Lifetime.com. Various seasons streaming on Netflix, Pluto TV and Hulu.
What people with autism wish you knew: 'We want to be understood, not hidden away'
1. 'Love on the Spectrum' (Netflix)
"Love on the Spectrum" follows seven adults on the autism spectrum who are actively dating. Each of the singles embarks on a quest for love through matchmaking, speed dating or online dating. The series began in Australia before a U.S. version premiered in May.
Why we love it: The authenticity of the show allows people to see a different side of those with autism in a way that is not infantilized or patronizing. Everyone can relate to love. There is also a lot to learn in terms of honesty within relationships.
Why we hate it: The seasons are only five episodes, and there's no reunion show to follow up on the love stories. It's also been over a year since the last season. We want more!
Season 1 (US); Seasons 1 and 2 (Australia) now streaming.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 16 popular Reality TV dating shows, ranked from worst to best